I came across this account, looking for who had started the RatWiki article on Quora. It was Benn, and he mentioned me from the start. I do have substantial page views and followers on Quora, but its maybe a tenth of what some Top Writers have. I’m gratified that there are Top Writers following me, but that only means what the article actually acknowledges. Sometimes what I write is not Total NonsenseTM.
- 19:48, 3 May 2018 User account Benn was created
- 20:17, 3 May 2018 (diff | hist) . . (+1,113) . . N Astrosophy (Astrosophy)
- 20:21, 3 May 2018 (diff | hist) . . (+92) . . N User talk:Benn (Created talk page)
- 10:57, 4 May 2018 (diff | hist) . . (+1,664) . . N Quora (Quora page.)
- 03:34, 10 May 2018 LeftyGreenMario changed group membership for Benn from Autopatrolled to Autopatrolled and Sysop (Ah what the hell, here are the tools)
- 17:19, 17 July 2018 (diff | hist) . . (+28) . . Sheeple [LAST EDIT, total 239 edits]
May 3, 2018 was when the Debunking spiritualism (Darryl L. Smith) freak-out began. Shortly thereafter, Darryl moved high activity to Wikipedia as Skeptic from Britain.
I will examine edit timing, I have a database of all known Darryl Smith edits, but I do know that this could explain a gap that appears in that database. (Or if Benn is not Darryl, that should also be visible.)
Benn began with an article creation, common Smith. The first topic was within his classical interest, pseudoscience. Creating a stub talk page, also comment. Created Quora page, and prominent in that Quora article, initial edit:
Cranks on Quora
- Christopher Langan
- Abd ul-Rahman Lomax RW page created by DS as Marky.
- Daniel Kinch [no article, actually]
- Lou Liu [no article] and his Meether Concept
- Rome Viharo RW page created by Darryl as David1234 (obvious sock)(redirect), and Debunker (obvious sock).
- [[Gary Null], though he is mostly inactive. [sic, Gary Null]
- Many minor ones that have not gotten reference here.
Looking for Quora accounts
There is one answer, giving the account: Chris Langan. Banned, the edit log gives the date: October 1, 2018. He has only one answer that shows. But he has 5750 edits. Looking that over, it is almost entirely comments, that is comments on the Answers of others, and responding to other comments. Many of these have been deleted. This is entirely to be expected for someone like Langan. He is obviously very smart, and thinks himself so, and it could easily be real. However, very smart people often lack the social skills to function in an environment like Quora, which has one strict rule: BNBR, Be Nice, Be Respectful. And the reality of this is “Do Not Look Not-Nice, Do Not Appear Not Respectful, because Quora runs with paid staff, and they have a few seconds to decide if a comment is a BNBR violation or not, and they do not look at context. So trolls have often taken out Top Writers. But Langan was not a writer for Quora, he had an account and expressed his views a lot. Just not surprising at all he’d be banned.
He was not a prominent Quoran at all, he is a prominent person, so why did Smith list him?
I can tell that there was more than one answer for Langan, because the person giving the address claimed that an Answer from Langan had been collapsed. Collapsed Answers can still be read, at least by registered Quorans. There is no collapsed Answer on that Question, so it has been deleted. It might have been deleted by Quora or by Langan himself.
Smith does not discriminate between Answers and Comments. Non-Quorans (no account) cannot read comments. There is a Quora Topic, RationalWiki.
Quora has well over 100 million accounts, which are required to be real-name. (enforcement of that is difficult, to be sure). Many prominent people have accounts, see the Wikipedia article. Quora does not discriminate against users as to point of view or political position, but someone with an unpopular view might be the subject of complaints, and the number of complaints correlates with the number of bans. I’ve received warnings (and a block at one point), for comments that were not actually BNBR violations, if the context were considered, but that could certainly look that way. Top Writers, who are often the target of hostility and trolling, have learned to ignore trolls. One can delete any comment on one’s Answer. One can report trolling, and that is what Quora wants. They don’t want flame wars.
Researching the RationalWiki topic could be interesting. None of this gets substantial page views. Looking at the first presented Answer, it’s by Rome Viharo, but Rome is hardly an active Quoran. He has 31 Answers, 115 edits, and 110 followers.
I was unable to find any account for Gary Null. He is discussed.
For comparison, Abd Ul-Rahman Lomax has 2,229 Answers, 10,243 edits, and 2,001 followers. That’s starting to be an active Quoran. I have 5.25 million page views, 23,200 upvotes. A good chunk of those page views and upvotes are from one Answer: Could a billionaire swim in a pool of vodka?
Crank, eh? Crank attached to what machine? David Gerard’s opinion of Abd: “text producing bioweapon.” He was right on that. Skilled writers are very, very dangerous, to one attached to some point of view that doesn’t like anything else.
However, there are actually many of us. Funny how anti-intellectual RatWiki became, given its ostensible mission. It was never much more than an adolescent rebellion against Conservapedia, and adolescent rebellion thrives on snark, and snark thrives on contempt for others. This has nothing to do with rationality, and far more with a dependence on social authority, rather than rational skepticism, which accepts nothing on authority without being explicit about the assumption. Pseudoskeptics assume that their opinions are reality and science, which no genuine scientist would do.
Also for comparison, picked out of my followers on Quora, interesting people:
(Following me does not indicate approval, only interest.)
- Talya-De-Fay Top Writer 6.7m views 8.4k followers
- Miranda-Marcus Top Writer, 7m views, 3.5k followers
- Karen-Renee Top Writer, 2.5m views, 1.2k followers
- Devorah-Firestone Top Writer, 2.1m views, 4.7k followers
- Viola-Yee Top Writer, 21.4m views, 13.4k followers
- Noran-H-Azmy Top Writer, 1m views, 3.2k followers
- Frank-Dauenhauer Top Writer, 26.5m views, 21.2k followers
- Dakota-Lim published writer, 8.2m views, 14.3k followers
- Scott-Welch Top Writer, 27.5m views, 28.5k followers
- Daryl-Beggs quantum physicist, 0.4m views, 4.6k followers
- Andrew-Weill Top Writer, 76m views, 69.7k followers
- Catherine-Beale Top Writer, 5m views, 2.7k followers
- Christina-Marshall Top Writer, 3.4m views, 0.9k followers
- Karen-Tiede Top Writer, 47.5m views, 14.1k followers
- Frank-Heile physicist, Top Writer 6.2m views, 19.9k followers
To explain, when one follows a user on Quora, their answers appear in one’s feed. So one does not follow a user whose writing is not of interest.
All of these people are people I would love to meet in person. By contrast, there are maybe three RationalWiki users in good standing I’d be interested to meet. One of them retired.
There is an enormous amount of drek on Quora, but the way the site is structured, one can see good content and ignore the rest, easily. There is a whole blog dedicated to horrible “sciency” questions. Hilarious. There are millions of bad questions. So what? I don’t ever have to see them.
There can also be terrible questions with truly wonderful answers. Drop-dead beautiful Muslim woman speaking the honest truth about herself, and Islam, by the way. What’s more important? Finding this in my feed made my day. So I upvoted and followed her. By the way, when I upvote someone, it gets displayed to my followers, and so they may get more views, upvotes, and followers. Look at the other answers. Compare that to what one would see on Reddit, or other social media sites.
So who are well-known “cranks” with a Quora account? Quora, unlike Wikipedia or RatWiki, does not block “cranks,” but only those who violate BNBR policy, and most Rats would have great difficulty there. Oliver D. Smith survived, but deleted most of his answers, apparently. You can see what he had answered in his edit log.
Nothing offensive shows there. Why did Oliver bail? I’m guessing the answer might be found in Thorwald C. Franke’s edit log. And this RatWiki comment by a user with that name. This was Franke himself. Blocked as Mikemikev. Why? Well, Oliver wrote, as Gorgonite, a strong criticism of Franke. Franke was a real person, being very personally criticized by Gorgonite. But the identity of Gorgonite was obvious to Franke. Gorgonite wrote:
As has been explained many times to Franke
Explained by whom? By Oliver D. Smith, of course.
They had interacted, I believe, since Oliver was open and prominent in the world of interest in Atlantis. So Franke wrote what he saw:
The identity of the evil article creator Gorgonite who does not stop imputing false accusations to me is most probably Oliver D. Smith. See talk page of article. —Thorwald C. Franke (talk) 14:58, 1 October 2016 (UTC)
The revision was hidden as outing. Thorwald C. Frank was blocked as Mikemikev. Where did that idea come from? From Oliver D. Smith, of course, as Gorgonite.
Apparently not the real Franke
The person posting here as Thorwald C. Franke has been blocked on two accounts impersonating Franke and is likely Mikemikev based on the doxxing and a very similar posting style when he resorted to insults. Gorgonite (talk) [22:10, 1 October 2016]
Okay, what happened?
Thorwold_C_Franke_2 created 17:53, 1 October 2016. Claims to be Mikemikev, in the single edit to the talk page, which has been deleted, two years later by whom? Aeschylus, i.e., Oliver D. Smith, and deletion was attempted before by Darryl L. Smith. The deletion log. Covering up the evidence. This was not Mikemikev, this was the same user who has created many other impersonation socks on RatWiki and elsewhere. Someone impersonated Franke, in the user name and claimed to be Mikemikev. To believe that this was actually Mikemikev is preposterous. If the impersonation was working, why would he brag about it?
But Mikemikev would have no interest in Atlantis or Franke.
There was another edit to that Deletion talk page, by an IP that geolocates to match Smith (or Mikemikev, if he was back in the U.K. by that time).
The IP was Mikemikev, I’ve concluded. The suggestion was excellent. My view has been that if someone has been impersonated, they should be directly asked, in a way that verifies identity. The above suggestion was revision deleted without any real explanation. The email address is a public address from Franke’s web site.
Then the same IP edited Talk:Thorwald C. Franke:
Gorgonite/Krom is Oliver D smith. https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Oliver+D+smith
Email Thorwald on firstname.lastname@example.org to check this is not me. http://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlanveroeff_engl.htm I doubt you’ll do this. You prefer the pretty lie.
The message would be Mikemikev. What RationalWiki missed was that Mikemikev, as odious as his political opinions are or were, was largely telling the truth about Oliver, and in this case, he provided a method of verification. Did anyone follow up? I doubt it. He was right. Far too many Rats prefer a tidy story that matches their preconceptions, over reality. That is how the Smith brothers were able to get away with so much for so long.
Indeed. Who was Peter North legend? only contribution was the above, deleted. No block log. The IP was blocked, but the obvious trollsock, created 12:34, 4 November 2016, was not blocked. “[porn star] [something]” is a common Darryl trollsock name. For example: Peter_North_is_Abd. The asymmetry between how “targets” are treated and the “friendly” trollsocks are treated is blatant.
Benn went on to make mostly harmless edits that would not wave a Smith flag, but, even though made a sysop, disappeared after a few months. That is a common Smith pattern. They accumulate these accounts.
The purpose of the Quora article was to lay it on Abd ul-Rahman Lomax, the only serious Quoran mentioned. Quora, of course, probably has many users who are targets of articles. Let’s see what I can find.
- RW article Craig Weiler is about Quora Craig Weiler. 3,149 Answers. Top Writer. 16.4m views, 6,729 followers. I just followed him, looking at the profile, and within a minute, he followed me back. He only follows 10 people on Quora, so obviously I have name recognition.
Rats, he’s whupping yo ass. “Rants about skeptics,” yeah, right. Apparently a “rant” is a post that you dislike or disagree with. Quora does not discriminate against long comments, which any Rat might call a rant. People read them or they don’t, and they upvote or downvote them and follow the author or they don’t.
What I see first in the RatWiki article is the photo of him. That smile. Makes me happy looking at it. I DGAF what his opinions are on parapsychology. Marcello Truzzi was popular with psychics, etc., because he was not only a nice guy, but a real skeptic, not a fake one, not a “debunker.” We get stupid when we try to prove we are right and others are wrong.
We do not get stupid by detached observation and report. The opposite. Open-minded does not mean that our brains fall out. It means they work at what they are really good at: observing data and noticing patterns, instead of imagining patterns and finding them in data. Yes, genuine scientist do the latter (we all do), but will be intensely aware of the projection problem and will work hard to prove that the pattern is spurious, not significant.
As to the claim in the article:
There were no “paranormal studies” on Wikiversity, there was a resource on parapsychology, a controversial science, the scientific study of the paranormal. The deletion was entirely contrary to Wikiversity traditions, and it was a result of massive disruption and lobbying by Darryl Smith. The content was rescued as XML with full history. Weiler made a total of 6 edits on 25 May 2014. I organized the top-level resource, designed to be rigorously neutral, and confirmed as such by an administrator. Many times Darryl attempted to attack that resource. Ben Steigmann almost entirely devoted himself to a subpage, an annotated list of resources, (blanked by Steigmann recently, but visible in history) “owned,” i.e, on attributed subpages on Wikiversity, one could express opinions. Just as a student or instructor can at a university. They do not mention that also contributing to that resource was Brian Josephson, Nobel Prize winner, MrRowser (more edits than Weiler) and TreeTrailer (likewise) — both Darryl Smith socks — (and revisions were made based on their suggestions) , as well as Dave Braunschweig, Wikiversity administrator.
Dean Radin is also a notable parapsychologist, and has a Wikipedia article. As is common on Wikipedia, “claims of the paranormal” is collapsed and confused with parapsychology, which is the scientific study of what appears as paranormal. The field is difficult, but the term pseudoscience is not proper for parapsychology itself, but rather would refer to claims or beliefs that cannot be falsified. That some psychic (psychological) phenomena are unexplained does not contradict physics, and the belief that all reported psychic phenomena are fraud or error is itself pseudoscientific, just another example of people believing what they want to believe.
CSICOP, the predecessor of CSI, the Committee for Scientific Inquiry, was the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. I.e, parapsychology. So what is this crazy nonsense?
The Weiler article was created by and expanded by Smith socks: Strawberry_Smoothie, very likely Darryl L. Smith, then expanded by David1234 and DinoCrisis, both clearly DS. Later in edit history, Zirkoff is possible, Debunker, Shen-Du not impossible, not clear, JonDonisDUNKER, obvious Smith trollsock, blocked for 1 day only, last edit characteristic, Gord, Cosmos (probably Oliver), Slings_and_Arrows, Marky, Anti-Fascist_for_life, Debunking_spiritualism, GJ.
Okay, more RW cranks on Quora:
- RW David Gerard, Quora David-Gerard 19 Answers, 9.1k Views, 47 Followers. Favorite quote: “RationalWiki knows it’s human and therefore stupid.” I thought it was a wiki, not a human being. But he runs the place, so I suppose he’d know. The standard opinion expressed there, though, is that everyone who doesn’t think like them is stupid. I’ve never seen “We’re stupid,” there.
- RW user Oliver D. Smith (banned, many accounts), Quora Oliver-D-Smith, 13 Answers, 11.8k Views, 15 Followers.
- RW user Thorwald C. Franke nemesis of Oliver D. Smith, blocked on RW as Mikemikev (not!) Quora Thorwald-C-Franke, 61 Answers, 30.8 Views, 3 Followers.
- RW article Deepak Chopra, Quora Deepak-Chopra, 50 Answers, 264.4 Views, 19.0k Followers.
- RW article Michael Coombs, Quora Michael-Coombs, account activity began in 2016, banned May 2, 2019. log shows why.
I may come back and add more.